MILKQUA - Milk Quality along the Dairy Chain for a Safe and Sustainable MILK

About Us

MILKQUA project will enhance milk and dairy food quality and safety, and lower milk-associated health hazards, by reducing antimicrobial use on Tunisian farms in the context of One Health approach. Milk safety and quality are essential to the health and welfare of a community. Yet, milk also provides one of the main vehicles of food-borne diseases and antibiotic resistance. Therefore, MILKQUA will : • Deliver an extension-based national milk program (QMP) to reduce the incidence of mastitis, and the consequent use of antibiotics. • Explore the use of essential oils and plant extracts with antibacterial activities in diets of dairy cows to decrease the burden of mastitis, and increase feed efficiency, animal welfare and sustainability of milk production system. • Improve the quality, including the shelf life of dairy products. MILKQUA is a cross-multidisciplinary project engaging 5 EU partners from 4 countries (France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal). It will team with 5 Tunisian partners including livestock organization, academic and research institutions and dairy companies, with a high expertise in both fundamental and applied science, and will strongly rely on up-to-date system biology (both in vitro and in vivo assays) and OMICs methodologies. Synergy in communication and dissemination by the several Tunisian stakeholders will permit to reduce and monitor antimicrobial usage in livestock and improve both milk quality and quantity. MILKQUA will enhance the role of Tunisian dairy producers, as economic and environmental actors of the rural communities as purveyors of a sustainable food supply to consumers. MILKQUA will also lay the foundation of an accountable and dynamic system that will stimulate the economy to grow and promote prosperous and resilient communities across the country and elsewhere, providing new knowledge about the biological effects of natural compound that will be extended to other Mediterranean basin countries.

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Period of Implementations

Apr 19, 2019 - Mar 31, 2023

Total Budget

EUR 837.724,00

OUR IMPACT

Goals

To set up an extension-based national milk program (QMP) in order to reduce the incidence of mastitis and the consequent use of antibiotics in Tunisia, • To explore the potential use of essential oils and plant extracts with antibacterial activities in diets of dairy cattle, • To decrease the burden of mastitis, to increase feed efficiency, to improve animal welfare and the sustainability of the milk production system, • To improve milk quality including the shelf life of dairy products, • To enhance the role of Tunisian dairy producers as providers of sustainable food supplied to consumers.

Objectives

MILKQUA will develop and implement best practices within an integrated program for food safety and quality by: - Helping producers to prevent monitor and reduce food safety risks in their farms and companies by designing and implementing an on-farm food safety program, the Quality Milk Program (QMP). - Reducing the use of antibiotics and antibiotic-resistance for cattle and consumers, and improve animal yield by implementing an innovative phytocompounds-based anti-microbial approach and prevention in dairy farms. - Improving daily handling practices by implementing an educational program and the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), providing farmers with customable tools as a sustainable resource of reducing mastitis and improving antimicrobial stewardship for dairy stakeholders that will enhance food security and viability of rural communities.

Impact Pathway

1. Facilitate the development of new norms and standard for hazards prediction and risk assessment. MILKQUA will implement a Quality Milk Program that will provide the background to develop HACCP and Standard Operative Procedures throughout dairy production chain (WP2). 2. Develop new procedures for qualifying and classifying production sites and zoning: The application of OMICS technologies will provide MILKQUA with suitable procedure for qualifying and classifying milk and dairy products from 4 Tunisian sites, from North West to South (WP5). 3. Implement new systems and devices for food-safety monitoring along the entire food chain and best practices for all the food value chain phase: MILKQUA will facilitate the development of new surveillance programs, guidelines and policies by implementing a Milk Quality Program for monitoring food safety along the dairy production chain, establishing best practices that will reduce the bacterial contamination and increase the hygiene of milk and dairy products from udder to consumer (WP2, WP3). 4. Develop and validate bio-based protection practices, to select and characterise the natural extracts and species with protective characteristics for food production, quality and storage: MILKQUA will characterize the biological activity of phytocompounds and EOs derived from locally produced plants, which have been previously reported to have an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity, potentially acting synergistically with antibiotics used to treat mastitis. MILKQUA will test their effectiveness with in vivo and in vitro studies, by assessing animal performances and their effects on microbiome and immune defence by using advanced systemy biolgy approaches. On the background that around 30% of milk is discarded by dairy collection centers due to poor hygienic milk and the presence of antibiotics residues, MILKQUA aims to reduce the percentage of discarded milk by reducing for at least 20% the use of antibiotics (WP4, WP5, WP6). 5. Increase the awareness of the consumer: MILKQUA will allow practices farming improvement on anti-microbial use through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). MILKQUA will design a permanent information exchange between the farmers and the actors of the supply chain using participatory educational, training and accessible ICT to contribute to a permanent increase of the dairy value chain namely through a decrease of antibiotics use and of mastitis prevalence (WP7, WP8).

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